I'm a dog, so I have to enlist the assistance of a human to help me write my musings and experiences on day to day events at Animal Tracks. Of course I'm not computer savvy and my knowledge of the internet is all but nonexistent. But I understand you humans are connected by social and media networks and use sites such as Facebook to spread the word and raise awareness of creatures in need and other such worthy causes. Love it or hate it, some feel that it's a trivial platform to bleat on about your humdrum daily lives or a sinister invasion of privacy, others that it's a great way to spread awareness of important issues and enlist help and support for a charitable venture. But then you are all at liberty to block, delete or simply refrain from viewing.
Recently the plight of an old dog called Skubi was posted on some Facebook timelines by supporters of International Animal Rescue Goa with a wonderfully positive outcome.
Old dog Skubi had really fallen on hard times and his future seemed bleak and inevitable. Sadly his primary human carers had both died in quick succession leaving Skubi bereft and alone after over a decade of living as the family's pet and companion. A relative who came to the house to sort out the affairs of the deceased, finding poor Skubi, old, sad and alone, brought him to Animal Tracks and suggested that euthanasia may be the kindest option.
But of course this is not the policy at our rescue centre and we offered the alternative which was to seek a new home for Skubi. But as the days passed there was no interest from the people who came to adopt a rescue pet, most were looking out for a new pup or kitten or a mature animal with a lot of life left to live. Skubi, with his sad old face, droopy inner eyelids and far from perfect physique ravaged by time, held no appeal for many. But the rescue centre staff, volunteers and all of us centre resident animals knew that Skubi was a sweet and special still viable soul and worked hard to find a new home for him to spend the remainder of his days.
"Hi, I'm an older boy who's fallen on hard times since my humans both died in quick succession. I suppose I may be passed by when people come to IAR to adopt with all the cure youngsters around. But given another chance at life I could be your loyal best friend and companion. I just need some love and a safe place to spend the rest of my days, I'm waiting patiently in kennel number 26 at Animal Tracks."
A plea on behalf of Skubi was posted on some Facebook timelines in the hope that all it needed was one connection with the human he needed. And very shortly Skubi's plea touched the particular hearts of not one but three kind humans. Animal lover and IAR fund-raiser Jenny far away in Scotland had worked previously as a volunteer at Animal Tracks and was so touched by Skubi she offered to sponsor his food and medication for the rest of his days. But even closer to home were Dagmar and Ric who are staunch animal welfare advocates within their local Goan community. Dagmar too was moved by the Facebook plea and Skubi's sad face and desperate situation. The couple who have a beautiful home full of other rescued animals in a tranquil, safe rural location opened up their hearts to Skubi. They decided that if he was accepted by the other animals in the house then he could stay. A visit was swiftly arranged and dear old Skubi gave an almost audible sigh of relief the moment he arrived. It was as if he somehow knew this could be a second chance at life and happiness. Usually we insist that an adoptive animal is kept secure and controlled for the first few days in a new home, but Skubi's integration was virtually instant and within a few short hours he was confidently strolling through the nearby countryside with his new family as if he'd always been a part of it.
Of course we always stress to adopt a rescue animal and never buy a new pet. But please consider taking in a senior, we have so much to offer the right human guardians. The constant demands of a pup can be time-consuming and bothersome, especially at the house training, shoe chewing mischievous phases.
Older dogs have usually passed through these problematic stages and have little desire to roam or get into trouble, unlike a youngster full of boundless energy, zest and enthusiasm. An older animal often merely requires some comfort and stability in his later years and will seek out a calm situation with quiet companionship and love. Also our exercise, although still crucial, is not too time-consuming for our humans to cope with, we grey muzzled seniors are happy with a quiet stroll and seldom embark on the demanding throwing and retrieving of a ball or other stimulating activities associated with a young pup's nurturing. That's not to say us oldies aren't always still up for a walk: even if we can no longer instantly jump to attention, our old ears prick up at the command "walkies" or the sound of the leash being removed from its hook in readiness for an outing.
Often potential adoptees are put off taking a senior companion thinking the animal will fail to bond or be too set in his ways. Also the fear of losing a pet relatively soon after becoming emotionally attached and the worry of age-associated medical problems can be a negative factor when considering adopting an older animal. There is basis in fact for all these concerns and misunderstanding, but with responsible care and diet and huge amounts of love, caring for an older animal in his twilight years or months can bring unimagined joy and unconditional affection to a person's life.
The rewards, even short term can far outweigh the pain of inevitable loss at losing a true friend.
Wherever you are in the world I ask you to always adopt from your local shelter and please consider the benefits of an older animal that may well fit more appropriately with your life than a young feisty demanding pup or kitten.
In much of society older dogs, cats, other pets and often people are considered expendable and given up on because no one can be bothered with them.
Old dogs make great companions. Please don't give up on us at the end of our time - we would never ever do that to you whatever the circumstances. Not all of us get the chance at a new start, but each and every one of us deserves to live out a natural life with love and shelter, a warm bed and enough food.
Skubi has been truly blessed to meet Dagmar and her family and find his final forever home.
Of course IAR Goa's Animal Tracks centre will provide continued support and free medical care for the next year of Skubi's life. All funding for the rescue centre is provided by generous donations, however large or small, which enable International Animal Rescue to focus on helping more animals in the future.
Skubi has swapped his loneliness after losing his old family for a wonderful fresh start, a safe place to rest his old bones and snooze away his days on a luxury padded bed instead of a cold hard floor . With ongoing improvements in veterinary care, diagnosis and treatment there is no reason why he won't live happy and healthy for a long time to come.
As with humans, age should be no barrier to learning and yes, it is possible to teach an old dog a few new tricks in order to secure his path to happiness.
The moral of Skubi's story is that it really is never too late for any of us to have a chance at a new beginning.